Saturday, April 30, 2005

More about Gazala

The British commanders at Gazala were totally unaware that they were being beaten. From the Corps commanders and above, even on June 6, 1942, they thought that they had given as well as they had received. As I have pointed out, the British commanders were n the rear and communicated with the troops by radio or wire. Rommel was leading his troops in combat. That had its risks and drawbacks. One wrong move, and Rommel could have been either dead or a British prisoner. He also had challenges with communications, although the Germans were mobile and experts. Rommel was able to turn north and roll up the rear of the British and Commonwealth line at Gazala. Once General Ritchie realized that he was being beaten, he ordered the troops to head for the Egyptian frontier, which was contrary to what General Auchinleck wanted to see happen. That move caused Tobruk to be taken by the Axis forces. Auchinleck had taken command when he realized that his commanders had lost control of the battle and were being beaten. He was able to rally the troops and keep the Axis from rolling to the Suez.

The Gazala Battle was a disaster (31 May-5 June 1942)

Auchinleck's field commander, General Ritchie, threw away his armor in a counterattack against Rommel. General Frank Messervy had escaped from the Germans and was trying to lead the troops trapped in the "Cauldron" out of danger. General Ritchie had a rugged look, and seemed the perfect picture of a general with a jutting jaw and mustache. The only problem is that he was indecisive, gave contradictory orders, and committed forces piecemeal. The result was that on 5 June, the British had lost 168 cruiser tanks, 50 infantry tanks, 4 artillery regiments, the 7th Armoured Division Support Group, and an Indian infantry brigade from the 4th Indian Division. The British commanders were in the rear while Rommel led his troops in the van. This is from Correli Barnett's book The Desert Generals.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Air Defenses of Malta in January 1941

January 1941 saw the island of Malta with just 42 heavy and 28 light anti-aircraft guns. The only fighter aircraft on the island were No.261 Squadron RAF with 12 Hurricane I's. The other aircraft were No. 228 Squadron RAF with 5 Sunderland flying boats, No.69 Squadron RAF with 4 Martin Maryland maritime reconnaissance aircraft, No.148 Squadron RAF with 12 Wellington bombers, and No. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm with 10 Swordfish torpedo bombers. This is from Vol.II of the official history of the war in the Mediterranean and Middle East.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I feel a personal connection to the German attack on Crete in 1941

In Vol.II of the British official history of the war in the Mediterranean and Middle East, there is a picture showing ships burning in Suda Bay. Another picture below that shows German paratroopers in the air, landing near Suda Bay on 20 May 1941. Suda Bay is the farthest East that I have been, in the Mediterranean Sea. We anchored in the bay, with the same granite cliffs that I had seen in photographs. Suda Bay is in far Northwest Crete, facing North, as I remember. I think that we were there to take part in wargames with the the John F. Kennedy (CV-67). Part of that was to simulate launching "Alpha Strikes" on the Southwest USSR, I believe. While in the far Eastern portion of our cruise, we had a Soviet Petya class frigate as our constant companion. In the Western Med, we had a minesweeper. We also saw various Soviet warships, including Krivak class destroyers.

I was an ensign in Operations Dept. on the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42). I actually don't remember the date we were there, although I would guess it to be in late 1976. I say that because we had our collision in the Straits of Messina in January 1977, and spent the rest of the cruise in the Western Med.

The German attack on Crete is noteworthy as a disaster to the British navy. Many destroyers were lost to air attack, including Lord Louis Mountbatten's flotilla leader the Kelly. The Kelly had survived near loss in 1940, having been torpedoed, only to be bombed and sunk in 1941.

Lord Mountbatten, Prince Charles' favorite "uncle", survived, only to be killed by the IRA. Prior to World War One, the family name had been Battenburg. Lord Mountbatten's father, Prince Louis of Battenburg, changed their name to "Mountbatten" after 1914. They were descendents of the Stuart family. King James' daughter Elizabeth Stuart had married Frederick V, Elector Paletine and sometime King of Bohemia, about 1613. Their daughter Sophia married an Hannoveran nobleman. The present royal family is descended from her, as her son George succeeded Queen Anne, when she died of smallpox with no surviving heirs.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The 10th Armoured Division

The 10th Armoured Division was formed from the 1st Cavalry Division. In August 1941, two brigades became armoured brigades (the 8th and 9th Armoured Brigades). The Royal Dragoons were the armoured car regiment. The 10th Armoured Division arrived in the Western Desert in July 1942. They fought in the battles of Alam Halfa and the Second Alamein. Their tanks had been previously used to equip the older divisions after the disaster at Gazala that had resulted in the loss of Tobruk. The 8th Armoured Brigade had been replenished with tanks, but the 9th was not. The 9th eventually was attached to the New Zealand Division, when the New Zealand Division became a new model mechanized division. At the Second Alamein, the 10th Armoured Division had the 8th and 24th Armoured Brigades under command. At the Second Alamein, the 9th Armoured Brigade was sent against the Axis anti-tank guns in the dark. That sort of planning almost lost the battle for General Montgomery. However, even with brute force, the British material advantage was so great that eventually, the Axis forces were destroyed, except for remnants.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The 9th Australian Division on 11 March 1941

The 9th Australian Division had relieved the experienced 6th Australian Division in the front lines. The 2/15th Battalion was stationed at Marsa Brega. The 20th Brigade HQ was at Bir el Ginn. Behind the 2/15 was the 2/17th Battalion. Divisional HQ was at Bir el Tombia. The divisional commander was Leslie Morehead, who had relieved General Wynter when the latter fell ill. Two brigades were transferred from the 7th Australian Division, and there were hard feelings about their being given to the 9th Division. This is probably from To Benghazi, although I am guessing based on old photocopies.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The 6th Australian Division at Bardia

In front of Bardia, the 6th Australian Division was short of much of its strength. The date was December 1940. The divisional cavalry regiment, except for one squadron, was at Giarabub. This was 140 miles from Bardia. The division only had two artillery regiments. The 2/1st was equipped with 25pdrs, but the 2/2nd had only the 12-18pdr and 12-4.5in howitzers of WWI vintage. These had been brought with the division from Australia. The division was augmented by the 1/Northumberland Fusiliers, which was a MG battalion. The divisional organization didn't have an organic MG battalion. The 6th Australian Division's Anti-Tank Regiment ended up in England, but the infantry brigades each assembled a company of 9-2pdr ATG's. The one divisional cavalry squadron had 20 carriers, each with many miles on it. Their armament was cobbled together from anti-tank rifles and Vickers MG's. This is from Gavin Long's book To Benghazi.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

I am planning on creating some photos of my AFV designs from the 1970's

I have been developing some expertise at producing "photos" (photoart pieces) of warships, either of my designs or of ships never built. I am interested in doing something similar for AFV's. There are many opportunities, especially of vehicles and guns that were not widely photographed.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Political pressures in 1942

I had not realized just how intense the political pressure was on Winston Churchill in mid to late 1942. 1941 had already been a dreadful year, in many ways. At the start, the British (really, British and Commonwealth forces) armed forces were getting in position aid the Greeks against the Italians. In North Africa, the British were attacking the Italians and driving them back. By May 1941, things had turned down. Greece and Crete were lost. The Hood was sunk. Many warships were lost in the action around Crete. In North Africa, the Germans had attacked and pushed the British back. The Tiger Convoy had been pushed through the Mediterranean, only to have the equipment wasted in Operation Battleaxe. About that time, the Germans invaded Russia, with incalculable impact on the British forces in the Mediterranean and Middle East. For the latter part of 1941, the British had a tremendous build up of arms and men, culminating in Operation Crusader, a battle which was nearly lost, until General Auchinleck took personal command of the army in the field. Almost concurrently, the Japanese attacked. In the process, the Prince of Wales and Repulse were sunk off Malaya. By early 1942, the situation was in chaos, but in North Africa, the front stabilized at Gazala. Tobruk was still in British hands. Then, events turned against the British. Rommel defeated the army in front of Gazala, took Tobruk, and then rushed for the Egytian border. General Auchinleck, with his chief of staff, Major General Eric Dorman-Smith halted the Axis advance at the First Alamein. Churchill's political fortunes were at a low ebb. He flew to the Middle East. He knew he had to take some bold step to restore the political situation, so he sacked Auchinleck, and in effect, Dorman-Smith, and put in place a new team: Harold Alexander as theater commander and Bernard Law Montgomery, as army commander in the field.

There was increasing disatisfaction with armoured car regiments by April 1943

Armoured car regiments seemed increasingly impotent by 1943. In April the announcement was made that a new-style formation would replace the armoured car regiment. Armoured car regiments were not disbanded, but they became GHQ units, while the armoured divisions acquired the new armoured reconnaissance regiments. The initial establishment was fairly complex, and included scout cars along with tanks. The eventual evolution of the formation became virtually identical with armoured regiments, except that they had a more mobile tank. Duncan Crow wrote that the King's Royal Hussars had a mixture of Cromwells and Challengers (with the 17pdr gun). They had three squadrons of 19 tanks, plus a HQ squadron. Some of the Cromwells had the 95mm howitzer for indirect fire.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

British Armoured Division Organization in 1944

The standard British armoured division in 1944 was organized as follows:
  • Divisional headquarters
  • Armoured reconnaissance regiment with 666 men, 61 tanks and 11 light tanks
  • Armoured Brigade with 10 tanks in the headquarters, three armoured regiments iwth 666 men, 61 tanks and 11 light tanks, a motor infantry battalion with 819 men
  • Motorized infantry brigade with 2,994 men with 1 MG company with 12 MG's and three motor infantry battalions
  • Divisional artillery with 1 field regiment (24-25pdr), 1 motorized regiment (24-25pdr self-propelled guns), 1 a/t regiment (48-17pdr), and 1-AA regiment (54-40mm AA)
  • Engineers (1ooo men)
  • Signals (728 men)
  • "Supply, Transport, and Medical Troops"
The division totaled 14,964 men, 262 tanks and 44 light tanks, with scout cars, carriers, and armoured observation posts. This is from a photocopy of a page from Duncan Crow's book on British armoured formations.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Air strengths in North Africa in 1940

Air Marshall Arthur Longmore commanded the British airforces in Africa and the Middle East in 1940-1941. There were 25 squadrons spread across the theater, including Aden. There were 168 aircraft in Egypt and Palestine. The Italians had about 400 aircraft in Libya. In East Africa, there were 85 British aircraft set against 170 Italian aircraft. At the declaration of war, British aircraft staged surprise raids on Italian airfields that caused considerable damage. The British were still outclassed, as the best British fighters in the theater were the biplane Gladiators. The Italians had a few much superior fighters. This is from an old photocopy from a chapter called "After the Fall of France" on page 96. It is obviously from an official history, perhaps that for the Mediterranean and Middle East.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Reconnaissance Corps 1941-1944

When the divisional cavalry regiments were absorbed into the armoured formations, starting in 1940, there was still a need for infantry divisions to have their own integral reconnaissance units. The solution was to create the Reconnaissance Corps. The Reconnaissance Corps units were initially designated as battalions, but eventually were redesignated as regiments, as were the battalions of the RTR. The cavalry regiments always did have that status, so they set the standard for the rest. Apparently, the reconnaissance battalions initially were armed with lesser armoured cars and scout cars, but eventually became indistinguishable from the armoured car regiments. At that point, they were merged with the RAC. That happened on January 1st, 1944. This is from Duncan Crow's book British and Commonwealth Armoured Formations (1919-1946), 1971.

Monday, April 18, 2005

The 2nd New Zealand Divisional armour

The 2nd New Zealand Division had its own divisional cavalry regiment. They had been mechanized, originally, with light tanks and carriers. Due to the New Zealander's dislike for how they were supported by the dedicated armour units, they eventually adopted a "new model" divisional organization with two infantry brigades and one armoured brigade. The 4th NZ Brigade had been battered near Ruweisat Ridge in July 1942, so they became the obvious choice to convert. While they were training, the 9th Armoured Brigade was attached to the division for the Second Battle of El-Alamein. After the decision was made to retain the 2nd New Zealand division in the Mediterranean Theater, rather than to transfer them to the Far East, the 4th Brigade rejoined the division. As an armoured brigade, they were initially equipped with 150 Sherman tanks.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The attack on Tobruk in January 1941

For the attack on Tobruk, there were only 18 infantry tanks still running. There was considerably more artillery, however, as well as a new British MG battalion, the 1/Cheshire. The units involved included the 2/1st and 2/2nd Field Regiments with one battery from the 2/3rd. There was British 7th Medium Regiment, one battery from the 64th Medium Regiment, the 51st Field Regiment, the 104th Field Regiment, and a battery of the 4th RHA. The 19th Brigade attack would have 52-25pdrs, 16-4.5in guns, 2-60pdrs, and 8-6in howitzers in support. Source:
  • Gavin Long, To Benghazi, 1952.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Montgomery followed General Auchinleck's plan at Alam Halfa

In 1948, the former theater commander, Alexander wrote that he had accepted Auchinleck's and Dorman-Smith's plan to fight at Alam Halfa, as it was a natural strong point. Montgomery executed that plan after he assumed command of the 8th Army from General Auchinleck. Part of the political need for Churchill to make a change was to relieve both Auchinleck and Eric Dorman-Smith, he chief-of-staff. The German assault was expected to follow Rommel's usual tactics, which were to try to go around the Southern flank and strike for the coast. In the past, that had been sufficient to panic the less capable British commanders. Churchill wrote of this period that he was at his weakest, politically, of any time during the war. He needed Auchinleck to make some gesture that would shore up his political situation. When that was not possible, Churchill needed to show that he was taking action, so he relieved Auchinleck. The Desert Generals, despite being old, tells the story well from an Auchinleck partisan view.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Partly, the Gazala Battles were lost because Rommel pre-empted British action

While General Neil Ritchie's 8th Army was moving into position to attack, Rommel's mobile forces pre-empted British plans. Rommel's strike force consisted of the 21st Panzer Division, the 5th Panzer (formerly 5th Light Division), and the 90th Light Division. They went South around the British desert flank. They were aiming behind the British lines, including for the famous Sidi Rezegh airfield, Southeast of Tobruk. The first phase of the battle was unfolding on 27 and 28 May 1942. The speed and decisive movement unhinged the British command, and succeeded in bagging the divisional commander, General Frank Messervy, and disrupted the 4th Armoured Brigade. Things only got worse from there.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The 9th Australian Division in February 1941

In February 1941, General Blamey told General Wavell that he should use the 9th Australian Division in Libya, and send the 6th Australian Division to Greece. Brigadier Moreshead had been recently promoted to be the 9th Australian Division commander. The division had not really been assembled in the field, at this time. It was missing units, and had other units under its temporary command. They were the target of the initial probing attacks by the newly arrived German reconnaissance battalion. When enough of the 5th Light Division had arrived, Rommel attacked, and caught the British and their allies flat-footed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

British Army Units, Circa 1940

Armoured regiments or battalions (either armoured cavalry or battalions of the Royal Tank Regiment) had a established strength of 52 tanks. Regiments and battalions were divided into squadrons, batteries (artillery), or companies. These were all units of between 100 and 300 men. An infantry "rifle company had 127 officers and men". A tank squadron had 170 men. A field artillery battery had 267 men. I believe that this is from Colonel Ellis' official history of the war in France and Flanders, although I am just guessing, as I am reading from a photocopy from 20-25 years ago.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Australians and the force sent to Greece in late 1940 and early 1941

General Wavell's plan had been to send the 7th and 9th Australian Divisions and to keep the experienced 6th Australian Division in Cyrenaica. The Australian commander, General Blamey, insisted that the best Australian troops be sent to Greece. That meant relieving the 6th Australian Division, replacing them with raw troops, and transporting them to Greece (where they lost their equipment). We can sympathize with General Blamey, however, in that he didn't want to expose inexperienced units to the uncertainties of the operation to aid Greece against the Italians. No one foresaw that the Germans would enter the theater in both Greece and Libya, and would do so very soon. The 7th and 9th Australian Divisions eventually turned into seasoned veterans, but only after some considerable difficult experience.

Monday, April 11, 2005

More about Sidi Barrani

Apparently, by nightfall of December 10, 1940, Sidi Barrani had been taken, but strong Italian forces still remained capable of fighting. By this time, the 6th RTR was reduced to 7 cruiser and 6 light tanks. Unsupported, they had probed aginst the 1st Libyan Division, but were repulsed by anti-tank guns. That night, the 11th Indian Brigade formed a line to the southeast of Sidi Barrani. To the south was the Central Indian Horse (mechanized cavalry). On the morning of December 11th, Selby's Matruh Force, the 11th Indian Brigade, with armoured support attacked. Soon, Italian soldiers started to surrender. Indian soldiers, with accompanying armour, took between 1500 and 2000 prisoners from the camp at "Point 90".

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The First Battle of El Alamein

The First Battle of El Alamein ended German chances of victory in North Africa. From that point forward, the British forces, with their Commonwealth allies, were ascendent. Correlli Barnett, in The Desert Generals, wrote that on 17 July 1942, the turning point had been reached. The battle actually lasted longer than that, as the preliminary phase started in early July and continued until late July. British (including Commonwealth) infantry attacked South from El Alamein and systematically rolled up the Italians. There were insufficient German forces to really affect the issue, although Rommel used all that he had. The irony is, that after General Auchinleck, and his staff officer, Major General Eric Dorman-Smith, won the First Battle of El Alamein, they were replaced, as Churchill needed to shore up his political position. General Auchinleck had his problems. He seems to have made abominally bad choices for his field commanders. On the other hand, Churchill wanted to see Auchinleck be the field commander, as he recognized just how good Auchinleck was. That was difficult, when General Auchinleck was also theater commander, with wide-flung responsibilities. Auchinleck was replaced by two pedestrian, but reliable, commanders: Harold Alexander as theater commander and Bernard Law Montgomery as field commander.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

The initial British strategy for the Crusader Battle in November 1941

At the start of the Crusader Battle, the British planned to outflank Axis forces at the "wire" and strike toward Tobruk. They were newly equipped with large numbers (relatively) of new tanks, including the Cru. Mk.VI Crusader II and the American-built M3 Stuart light tank. The British armour was concentrated in the 30th Corps, which struck initially at Gabr Saleh, on the Trigh El Abd. One detachment turned short and headed North, just to the West of Sidi Omar. The 13th Corps, with infantry, attacked directly against the Axis forces between Sidi Omar and Halfaya Pass, in front of Sollum. The German 21st Panzer Div. was sitting at Gambut, on the Via Balbia. The 15th Panzer Division was sitting at the edge of Tobruk, near the Sidi Rezegh airfield. Elements of 30th Corps headed straight at the 15th Panzer Div. The action did not go well for green British armoured forces, and eventually, General Auchinlech relieved his field commander Lt. General Alan Cunninghem, and took charge himself. He eventually won the battle. Correlli Barnett's book The Desert Generals, has a good description of the Battle. Another book that gives the feel of what was happening is Robert Crisp's Brazen Chariots.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Selby force at Sidi Barrani in December 1940

Brigadier Selby commanded a force for the attack on Sidi Barrani that was composed of three columns. He personally lead one column with the 3/Coldstream Guards, 6 field guns, three light tanks, and a machine gun company. The second column had a rifle company, a machine gun company and one field gun. They also had 8 dummy guns (I suppose to overawe the Italians). The third column had some infantry, artillery, and this time, 65 dummy tanks. I suppose the use of dummy equipment was to give the appearance of greater force, as they were opposed by large numbers of Italian troops. The whole purpose was to break the Italian morale. This is drawn from Gavin Long's To Benghazi.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

30th Corps Troops at El Alamein

In what is described as 30th Corps Troops and troops in Corps reserve, there were the following units:
  1. 23rd Armoured Brigade commanded by Brigadier G.W. Richards. The 23rd was composed of the 8th RTR, 40th RTR, 46th RTR, and 50th RTR, along with the 121st Field Regiment RA, 168th Light AA battery RA, and engineers and ambulance units
  2. 4/8th South African Armoured Car Regiment
  3. Artillery, consisting of the 7th Medium Regiment, the 64th Medium Regiment, and the 69th Medium Regiment
  4. This was along with mortars and signals units
This is a from photocopies from Appendix A of what I believe is the official history

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

1st Armoured Division on 23 October 1942

The 1st Armoured Division fought in the Second Battle of El-Alamein. The divisional commander was Major-General Raymond Briggs. The division consisted of the 2nd Armoured Brigade and the 7th Motor Brigade, plus divisional troops.

The 2nd Armoured Brigade commander was Brigadier A. F. Fisher. The brigade's units were The Queen's Bays, 9th Lancers, and the 10th Hussars, with the Yorkshire Dragoons motor battalion.

The 7th Motor Brigade was commanded by Brigadier T. J. B. Bosvile, and consisted of the 2/Rifle Brigade, 7/Rifle Brigade, and the 2/King's Royal Rifle Corps (60th Rifles).

The divisional troops included: 12th Lancers (armoured cars), 2nd RHA, 4th RHA, 11th RHA (HAC), elements of the 78th Field Regiment, 76th A/T Regiment, and 42nd Light AA Regiment. They also included engineers, signals, and ambulances.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

An interesting note from To Benghazi

On page 130 of To Benghazi, there is an interesting note regarding the Thompson submachine gun (Tommy gun, as it is called in the note). It was only through hard lessons fighting the Germans that the Tommy gun was finally adopted. The Germans actually had adopted more modern submachine guns. The British only made the Tommy gun part of the standard equipment after the fall of France in 1940. As early as 1918 had found German troops equipped with machine pistols with 25-round magazines. The British had encountered German troops armed with submachine guns in Norway and in probing actions in Lorraine, prior to May 1940. Apparently in May 1940, a British battalion may only have had as many as two or three submachine guns. When the commandos were formed in June 1940, there were only 40 Thompson submachine guns in all of Britain.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Armour at the Gazala battle in 1942

The Germans started the Gazala battle with a new weapon. They had 19 Pzkw IIIJ's with the long 50mm gun with the frontline forces. There were another 19 at Tripoli, presumably newly arrived. The British also had a new weapon, the M3 Grant tank with the 75mm gun in a hull-mounted sponson. The 8th Army had 167 Grants in service, so the British started the battle with a big advantage. They also had another 250 Grants in Egypt, in reserve. The 4th Armoured Brigade had all the majority of Grants. They equipped their regiments with two Grant and one Stuart squadron. The 1st Armoured Brigade had one Grant squadron to two Crusader squadrons in their regiments. It was surviving Grants that stopped Rommel's advance at the First Alamein on July 3, 1942. On July 3rd, the 1st Armoured Division had 38 Grants out of their approximately 100 tanks. That was sufficient to stop Rommel's 26 tanks.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Commonwealth forces in the Middle East in early 1940

The 16th Australian and 4th New Zealand brigades arrived in the Middle Eastern theater in February 1940. The theater commander was General Wavell, and another thing happened in February: Wavell's command responsibilities were expanded to cover a wide area, from the Balkans to East Africa, to Iran and Iraq. His divisions included 7th Armoured, 6th British infantry, 1st Cavalry (yeomanry regiments), 6th Australian, New Zealand, and the 4th Indian. They were all undermanned and equipped. This was just before the entry of Italy into the war.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

It may not be of general interest

Not everyone may be interested in such trivia as what I just posted, but for a miniatures wargamer such as myself, it is quite useful. I have, in the past, used my own orders of arrival and OOB's. To make them accurate needs a great deal of otherwise trivial data, such as this. The whole effort of preparing OOB's and equipment lists necessarily consists of finding all these bits of data and aggregating them. We are also always on the lookout for new sources, and if possible purchase them. Otherwise, we copy pages, or barring that, take notes.

British artillery units at Bardia in December 1940

I was pleasantly surprised to see that a copy I have lists the artillery regiments and their equipment that were at Bardia in December 1940. Note that RHA stands for Royal Horse Artillery, RAA is Royal Australian Artillery, and RA is, of course, Royal Artillery. The units are as follows:
  • 1 Regiment RHA 16-25pdrs
  • 4 Regiment RHA 24-25pdrs
  • 104 Regiment RHA 16-25pdrs
  • 51 Regiment RHA 24-25pdrs
  • 2/1 Field Regiment RAA 24-25pdrs
  • 2/2 Field Regiment RAA 12-4.5in howitzers and 12-18pdrs
  • 7th MEdium Regiment RA 2-60pdrs, 8-6in howitzers, and 8-6in guns
  • 64th Medium Regiment RA 16-4.5in guns
This is from a footnote on page 155 of To Benghazi, by Gavin Long.

Some German Pzkw inventory figures

I have some copies from the Geschichte des zweiten Weltkrieges book that I made at the Johns Hopkins Library, right before I left Maryland. There is a table from page 124 that gives artillery and tank inventory numbers for 1 September 1939 (at the start of the war), 1 April 1940 (before the attack in May), and 20 June 1941 (right before the invasion of Russia). These are the tank inventory numbers:

Pzkw I: 1,445, 1,045, 889
Pzkw 35(t): --, 163, 203
Pzkw II: 1,228, 1,095, 1,197
Pzkw 38(t): --, 256, 801
Pzkw III: 101, 388, 1,565
Pzkw IV: 213, 148, 358

In some ways, the numbers of Pzkw I's in service in 1941 is surprisingly high. By 1941, though, it has fallen to third place in the inventory. The Pzkw III had become the most used tank. In 1940, it was the Pzkw II, with the Pzkw I a close second.

The British heavy artillery regiment in 1940

A British heavy artillery regiment was organized with a headquarters and four batteries. The regiment was armed with 4-6in guns and 12-8in or 9.2in howitzers. The troop strength was nominally 700. They did have 10-LMG and 17-Boys anti-tank rifles. I imagine that the LMG might have been Bren guns.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Things haven't changed much in the Middle East since 1936

The situation was different, in the sense the Britain controlled "Palestine" in 1936. From then, until the start of the war in 1939, there was conflict between Jewish immigrants and Arabs who resented their growing presence, and the government giving them land. In the process that lead to the war in 1948, when the Jewish state was formed, there was continued immigration of Jewish people to the region, beyond the quotas set by the British government. That lead to the "Exodus" voyage, post war. It also lead to bad situations where refugees were denied a landfall prior to the war. By the time the Australian and New Zealand forces arrived, Palestine was partitioned into three zones. The zones were determined by whether there was free access to Jewish people to purchasing land, or if it was restricted, or banned.

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